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The bassoon, that ubiquitous double-reed instrument, which featured prominently in the Baroque, Romantic and Classical eras of music, has been a relatively sparingly played—especially in solo settings—in the modern era. In jazz, which is all but synonymous with experimentalism, the bassoon has been very sparingly used. There are so few exponents of this odd, but beautiful instrument that wide gaps exist between Illinois Jacquet, Yusef Lateef and [...]
There is nothing predictable about the music of André Vasconcellos. To begin with, he is one of a crop of fresh Brazilian musicians that include guitarists Daniel Santiago and Yamandú Costa, mandolin-player, Hamilton de Holanda and, chief among them, pianist André Mehmari who are re-evaluating their native milieu and the idiom in which they write. They are doing this in relation to the Romantic Era of 17th and 18th Century music [...]
Both reeds and woodwinds maestro Jane Bunnett and piano virtuoso Hilario Durán have released enormously successful albums lately. Bunnett made Embracing Voices (EMI, 2009)...
Patty Ascher’s exquisitely floating soprano literally takes flight on her ever so memorable English album, Bossa, Jazz ‘n’ Samba, a collection of mostly original...
The master timbalero, Bobby Matos not only carries on the great tradition of the timbales that he inherited from El Rey, Tito Puente, but...
Trombonist, Wayne Wallace is very probably one of the most melodic players on his instrument. And although he might inhabit a somewhat narrow range—eschewing the very high register—he is also one of the most expressive trombone players today. His husky tone is one of a kind and gives his playing tremendous character. Moreover, he is one of the few players who comfortable in virtually every idiom and this is something unique as it enables him to extend his playing [...]
There comes a time in the life of a pianist, when the lure of a solo project is strong and he or she inevitably gives in. Having thus satisfied the yearning the musician is struck by an even more daunting task: the thought of a duo program, made even more alluring when there is an opportunity to duet with more than one musician and instrumentalist. Such an extravagance is rarely passed up so it is no surprise to find the wonderful world of pianist Jovino [...]
One of the greatest love affairs in music is the one between folk music and dance. This extremely covert relationship has spilled over into contemporary music as well—more so in musical excursions in Europe (where even Igor Stravinsky sang its praises with compositions of his own) and in Latin America. One of the most beloved of all these affairs is the storied one of the tango, a voluptuous one between characters born in countries as far removed as [...]
The near falsetto vocals of Chico Pinheiro perfectly offset the voluptuous music that he has created on There’s a Storm Inside. However narrow his vocal range, Pinheiro is a master storyteller and he weaves his lines like an elaborate tapestry, a sort of patchwork quilt that tells the story his way. Pinheiro has a softness that seems to accelerate and retard his very breath. This increases the dramaturgy of his vocalastics in both English and Portuguese [...]
Few musicians deserve a retrospective more richly than the mandolin player, Mike Marshall. The ground-breaking, genre defying instrumentalist and composer has melded his prodigious skills with musicians as far removed as David Grisman and Darol Anger, Bela Fleck and Caterina Lichtenberg… to where his heart lies most comfortably and gracefully, with Brasilian musicians such as Hamilton de Holanda and Hermeto Pascoal. Marshall’s career has spanned [...]
Any musician with the daring to attempt a solo project has to be on his game from the moment his fingers touch the keys. However few pianists—since the great Bill Evans—have shown unrivalled touch and expression as Paul Bley, Keith Jarrett, Michel Pilc and now the majestic Brazilian pianist, Benjamim Taubkin. Fortuitously, Adventure Music selected him to inaugurate their forthcoming series with Piano Masters Vol. 1. Here he plays mostly [...]
The music of guitarist Marcos Amorim penetrates the air so softly as he bends and folds notes gently creating a sort of glimmering light that wraps each note and phrase with a kind of warm glow that flickers and jumps where the accents of the music fall. Amorim is unique in that his music is a gilt-edged melding of Carioca rhythms and an almost vocal version of the ebb-tide of warm Atlantic waters that flavour the special voicings of Rio’s best singers [...]
Guillermo Klein’s third album for Sunnyside Records is also one of his most beguiling and very possibly one of the most memorable tribute albums of the year. Klein’s album, Domador de Huellas - Music of “Cuchi” Leguizamon, literally “the tamer of the footprints” has a deeply significant meaning. The “footprints” in question are a visceral element of a history that is close to disappearing. In this instance the footprint is also one that Gustavo “Cuchi” Leguizamon left [...]
This album, Unduality, a duet between pianist Greg Burk and the Dominican-born conguero, Vicente Lebron, is quite simply the most innovative interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “First Inventions” since the master conceived of it and a pianist’s sublime exercise. In fact it could be one of the most striking re-imaginations of a previously composed piece, ever. In themselves, the “First Inventions” are superlative creations demonstrating contrapuntal technique [...]
Even for a pianist with as prodigious a talent as Alex Brown, having a heavyweight in the music pantheon such as Paquito D’Rivera produce his debut album, must have largely been a dream. However, to pull off a debut as fine as this is a feat in itself. As a pianist, Brown has remarkable technique. Although he may still be searching for his true voice and that may take time, he appears to be closer than most. He is truly expressive and has an expansive sense of [...]
A delightful whimsy surrounds the room where 1 de Mayo descends, like a diaphanous sheet of sound amid its celestial wail. So extraordinary is the musical ensemble fronted by the hypnotic sound of Mercedes Figueras’ saxophones; doubly intriguing when entwined with the ululations and caterwauling ablutions of Tony Larokko’s horns. Mercedes Figueras is one of the most exciting saxophonists today. Enormously talented and with a voice [...]
In his much-anticipated follow-up to the Grammy-nominated and Juno Award-winning Latin Big Band recording, From The Heart (Alma Records, 2008) the piano master, Hilario...
There is a rare and celestial beauty that pervades throughout De Bach á Jobim, the album by the legendary a capella Brasilian group, Trio Esperança who share a very special connection with the 10-voice ensemble, Grupo Vocal Desandann. Both ensembles use the oldest instrument known to human kind in intricate harmonies that have a spirit connection seemingly as old as the Psalms of David. However, from the historical perspective [...]
The insane revelry of the guaguancó kicks off De La Habana a Nueva York, and produces a blue flame of energy from an all,...
Just how contagious is the music of Cuba? It has spread far and wide in a veritable pandemic. It is no longer an underground thing, something the Brits love to call any music that is not conventional rock and pop (how inane those monikers now sound). The seismic activity that comes from SunlightSquare Latin Combo on Havana Central was in fact a cracking session that the ensemble recorded over on the sunshine isle—no not Her Majesty’s territories at all [...]